On Starting Seeds Indoors

Gardening Jones shares how she gets her seeds started indoors.

 

There are probably as many ways gardeners are starting seeds indoors as there are gardeners. If you are new to starting from seeds, this may help.

It is pretty basic really. We have metal shelves that just fit over our kitchen propane fireplace. This provides a heat source at no additional cost to us.

We use the smallest plastic solo cups for the seeds. We cut drainage holes in them by turning a whole stack upside down, and using a sharp knife to make slits. Keeping them stacked prevents the cups from collapsing under the weight of the knife.

After putting some seed starting mix into the cup we place the seed on the mix, then add enough mix to make the seed planted at the depth suggested on the seed packet. Water a little, and place in a plastic tray. The trays we use are from a company called Planter’s Pride, and they originally came with seed starting pellets. We prefer the cups though, and the tray holds them in place. The lid has a cutaway on each side to allow for air flow. You can also just prop the lid a bit if you have a different brand.

We number the cups and keep a record of what is in each one. That way, we can just reuse the cups next year, and again record each see variety by number. No sense buying new cups.

We cover the plastic tray, then put that on an enamelware tray that sits directly on the fireplace. This buffers the heat perfectly. A cookie sheet would do the same.

As the seedlings emerge and grow, they graduate to larger cups and move up the shelves. Later in the season when we need more room, an additional light is hung over the top shelf. If we want to have more than one tray of starts, we just alternate their places on the shelves or fireplace every few days. When they sprout, again, they move to a higher shelf.

Works like a charm.

More tips on starting seeds indoors.

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January 15, 2016 · gj · 2 Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: All About Seeds

The Big Bug Hunt

Gardening Jones shares info about The Big Bug Hunt project.

Because I am obsessed with gardening, my husband says “possessed”, I often come across sites that not everyone will find.

That was the case this morning when I opened an email from Mother Earth News.

I will admit I don’t always open their emails, but this particular one was on planning  a garden and if they can help me get a better crop I am more than willing to spend 5 minutes watching a video.

Now as it turned out, it was more of an ad for their garden planning ap, which looks wonderful but isn’t something I would want. There is other useful info, but, well been there learned that.

It was something else in that email that really got my attention, this link to a project called The Big Bug Hunt, which I ended up joining for free.

Gardeners from around the world can send in good and bad bug sighting notifications, which are then sent by email to gardeners in close locations as a kind of warning system.

I have heard of this being done with Late Blight, but never with bugs. What a great idea.

Add to that they have really fabulous Bug Identification Guides, and I was compelled not only to join, but to share it with y’all.

Note that your cursor won’t change when you mouse over the three main links, but they will open up when you click on them. It does change for the links at the bottom of the page, including the ID guides.

So there you have it, a way to know if there is a pest infestation on it’s way to your house, or better yet, if the bee population is rising in your area.

This makes me feel like a kid again, outside searching for bugs. I just love this type of stuff, don’t you?

January 9, 2016 · gj · 2 Comments
Posted in: Gardening, Preparedness & Green Living

11 Edibles to Grow in a Survivalist Garden

okra flower

okra flower

You might look at your garden differently if your very existence depended on it. Of course you would consider balanced nutrition, but you also might look at storage ability and depending on where you live, even growing edibles in disguise.

Here are a few foods to consider if you want to rely more on your garden and less on food companies:

1. Quinoa, a relative of spinach, is grown for its high protein grains. It stores well, can be added to almost any recipe, and you can replant the seeds.

2. Flax is a lovely flowering plant grown for its seed, which is high in fiber and can be used as a substitute for oil and eggs in many recipes. It would blend in well in the landscape and not be seen as a food source by most people.

3. Dry beans most often have a pole growth habit. Their gorgeous flowers also help hide the fact that they are producing a high protein food source. Of course save some to replant.

4. Sweet potatoes look very much like a ground cover. They are related to morning glories and have a lush vine like top growth of beautiful leaves. The tubers themselves store well, can be used to replant, and are highly nutritious. Sweet potatoes are not only a good source of vitamin A, they also have a lot of vitamin C.

5. Unless you are a gardener, you probably wouldn’t recognize a potato growing if you saw one. The russet varieties store the best, and you can replant the following season. What we really like about potatoes besides their ability to store is the versatility of use. May as well keep things interesting.

6. Garlic is said to have some antibiotic properties, can be replanted not long after harvest, and stores well. It takes up very little room yet can make a world of difference in your food.

7. Okay, it would be tough to hide dry corn growing, but if that isn’t an issue we suggest it as a good source for a flour substitute. It stores forever and you can replant the seeds. Just grind for grits, cornmeal, and polenta. If you grow a popping variety, you even have a good snack food.

8. Okra is an easy edible to incorporate into a landscape, just look at the picture above. You can cook it a variety of ways, plus you can dehydrate it to grind and use as a food thickening agent. Be sure to let 1 or 2 pods grow big to save the seeds.

9. Walking onions grow as a perennial scallion type onion with an increased harvest each year. Dry the tops to use throughout the winter months.

10. Hot peppers are a good idea even if you don’t eat them. They can be used to make a pepper spray which works well as a pest deterrent.

11. Tomatoes would also be hard to hide, except that you can actually grow them, as well as other edibles, indoors. Stagger a few plantings of heirloom varieties to have a fresh vitamin C source year round. Lightly brush the flowering plants with your hands or use a tuning fork to help promote pollination.

Hopefully growing your own food never becomes an absolute necessity. Even if you don’t consider yourself a survivalist, it never hurts to be ready, just in case. The worst thing that could happen is you become addicted to growing food.

And that’s a good thing.

January 9, 2016 · gj · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Preparedness & Green Living

Avoiding Squash Vine Borers

Gardening Jones looks at squash varieties that are resistant to the squash vine borer.

Kikuza Squash

Knock on wood squash vine borers have never been an issue for us, at least not yet. It tends to happen more in the South, but we are not immune here in the North. I have seen many social media posts by equaintances describing the devastation these hard to get rid of pests can cause, and the work needed to deal with them.

It was when I recently shared this post that my friend Steve G. taught me something new.

Squash vine borers like to deposit their eggs in squash with hollow stems. C. moschata is the one species that has solid stems. Therefore, the vine borers tend to leave them alone.

Growing only one species of squash is somewhat limiting, but not as much as you might think. So if vine borers are an issue in your garden, here is a list of some of the Grow This Not That squashes you can plant and relax.

Pumpkins: Long Island Cheese Pumpkin, Golden Cushaw, Fairy Tale Pumpkin, Dickson Pumpkin

Zucchini: Trombonzino (Tromboncino)

Other winter squash varieties that are C. moschata include all the butternut types, crookneck varieties like Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck, and a number of more unusual varieties like Black Futsu, and Kikuza.

So if this is an issue you have been dealing with, try some of these varieties or do a search online to find more options.

Squash without the worry of squash vine borers?

you can grow that

You Can Grow That! is a collaborative effort by gardeners from around the world to encourage everyone to garden. Find more posts like these by clicking on the link above.

January 4, 2016 · gj · 4 Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: FAQs, How to Grow

Toxic Waste

This guest post was printed with permission by the author Cheryl Pendleton Knepper, aka The Intrepid Gardener

The Intrepid Gardener shares her first experiences in the veggie garden.

Years ago when we first moved to Arkansas, I really, really wanted to start a garden, but sadly the soil here is made of lots of clay (lots). That combined with no knowledge of growing in the extreme heat, made it impossible to get my garden growing. So I gave up, for a very long time.

Fast forward past many years, one bad car accident, a diabetes diagnosis and the development of this great invention we call the internet and we decided to try again.

This time we were excited to discover raised box gardening, and lots of information to help on line. Making things much easier, or so we thought.

My hubby got the wood and create the boxes for us. We had decided to start with 4, so as not to overwhelm ourselves and help with cost because we had to purchase soil, fertilizer, seeds, plants and all the lovelies that you “need” get that go with gardening.

Four boxes and many bags of soil later, everything was put together. The seeds went in the ground and we waited, excitedly!

And then came the day when that first little set of leaves popped through the soil. It was followed by another and another until most of the seeds had sprouted. I danced and a gardener was born!

The tiny plants began to get bigger, and I was so excited. I had started to adopt a healthier lifestyle, and working in the garden was part of that. And then one day my plants started looking odd, nothing too much at first, just not that nice green. Then one day I looked out my window and saw yellow instead of green and my hubby confirmed it when he came in and said the garden looked a bit, you guessed it, YELLOW.

I was very sad & worried, this had been a lot of work, too much to fail. So, we headed to our computer & the internet. After a few searches I thought I had found the problem, and when hubbies research agreed with mine, we knew what to do.

Off to the store, again. Only this time we got fertilizer, blood meal, bone meal and anything else that looked like we might need it. We went right out to the garden when we got back and started applying the nitrogen that those poor plants needed. Nutrients that obviously was not provided in the soil we purchased, now fondly named “Toxic Waste” by my hubby.

The Intrepid Gardener shares her first experiences in the veggie garden.

It took a couple of weeks ,but slowly those little plants turned dark green again, and with some tender loving care & nutrients they thrived and produced veggies! Real live vegetables, growing in my own back yard, that I could eat & feed my family!

I was so excited to know this wasn’t the end of the story, but the beginning of more, more boxes, more veggies, more fun and more learning, but that is a story for another day.

January 3, 2016 · gj · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Gardening, Gardening People, Places & Things

13 Faster Growing Edibles

You might call it fast food.

These veggies are ready to eat sooner than their relatives.
Whether your season is short or you just want to make the most of it, here are a few suggestions.

sugar baby watermelon

Small watermelons can be grown vertically.

Vegetable Variety DTM Note
Bean Buff Valentine 50 Bush habit
Bean Contender 50 Bush habit
Broccoli Blue Wind 49 From transplanting
Beets Babybeet 40 Small but good shape
Carrot Mokum 36 Baby carrot or full size at 56 days
Cauliflower Snowcrown 50 Plant spring or fall
Cucumber Unistars 42 Small cocktail type
Eggplant Hansel 55 F1 Purple
Onion Guardsman 50 Bunching or scallion type
Peppers Sweet Ace 50 Green stage
Pumpkin Racer 85 Carving type
Tomato Moskvich 60 Good size heirloom
Watermelon Little Baby Flower 70 2-4 lb.

Most of the information was found from Johnny’s Select Seeds and reprinted with their permission. They specialize in farm to market vegetables, so carry a number of seeds that produce quickly. Some listed here are exclusive to them.

January 2, 2016 · gj · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: All About Seeds, Specific Plant Varieties

What to Do in the Garden – January

Gardening Jones shares a January garden to-do list, and some supply links to save you money.

Winter seems to drag on forever; then before you know it, it’s Spring.

Getting prepared is a fun thing to do in January.

By now you probably have at least a few calendars for the new year. This month we go through our seed packets, especially anything that is new to us, and mark on the calendar when to start the seeds or plant outdoors.

We missed out on one plant by not doing this last year, because we didn’t notice that the Ashitaba seeds we had purchased needed to be refrigerated for 30 days or sown in the unheated greenhouse in early spring in order to sprout and be ready to plant outside. Hold on… I have to go mark that on the calendar. 😉

If you went through your seed stash last month to see what you need, now’s a good time to map out your garden. Be sure to make note of any succession planting you might be doing.

There are a number of online garden planting aps you might like to try. Some gardening friends of mine use Excel to map out their gardens. We’re old fashioned, and prefer pencil and paper. Pencil is best if you are like me, and either change your mind or make a planting error. Once something is in the ground, I use pen.

To make things even easier, I keep the map on a clipboard. When I go out to direct seed the clipboard not only holds my map, it’s a handy way to hang on to the seed packets.

So, now you are ready to place those seed orders, yeeha!

Everyone has their favorite companies they use, but know that the majority of seeds come from the same supplier. The exceptions would be very rare seeds and some hybrids. Other than that, we suggest you go for price. If you intend to save seeds, buy a smaller quantity for a lower price. You only need enough dry beans for one year, for example, after that you can save enough to plant every year.

You already know the big seed companies, so as promised, here are a few smaller companies we have had success with:

SeedsNow! Check out their 99 cent sampler packs.

Horizon Herbs/Strictly Medicinal Very unusual finds here.

Issac’s Seeds and Seeds For Thee A very small joint venture company with seeds as low as 40 cents/pack. Always $1.50 S/H no matter how much you buy.

Sample Seeds No frills, just good seeds.

Average Person Gardening is home of the Seeds of the Month Club. You don’t have to be a member to get seeds at a good price. If you are though, you get 25% off and free shipping.

Also save money by checking out:

Dixondale Farms This company sells onions & leeks to the bigger companies, who then bump the price. Buy from them direct and save. The more you buy, the less you pay per bunch. Go in with a friend!

Potato Garden Like Dixondale Farms, these guys sell potatoes to other companies. They also sell direct. Eliminate the middle man and save.

Happy Planning January!

 

 

 

January 2, 2016 · gj · 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Month by Month

10 Varieties of Radish

Gardening Jones shares 10 interesting varieties of radishes for your garden.

French Breakfast Radishes, seeds from averagepersongardening.com

 

One of the fastest growing edibles, radishes can be harvested in as little as three weeks after sprouting. They are often used to mark rows of vegetables that take longer to sprout, like carrots and parsnips.

Relatives of the cole crops, some radishes can be planted towards the end of summer and stored in cold holding. These varieties have a longer time to maturity, or DTM. All other varieties can be planted in early spring and again in the fall, as they do not like hot weather.

Radishes also vary in size, color and flavor. Note all varieties listed here are either heirloom or open pollinated.

Name Color Size DTM Notes
Cherry Belle Red w/ white flesh Small round 21 days Bright color
White Icicle White 4-6" icicle shape 30 Crisp and mild
Formosa White Oval 8-10" long 85-100 Good storage
Purple Plum Purple w/ white flesh Small round 28 days
German Giant Red Baseball size 29 Large size without cracking
Easter Egg Assorted colors small round 28 Fun for kids & adults
Hailstone White Small globe 25 aka White Button
Green Meat Green & white skin with green flesh 10" icicle shape 50 days
Nero Tondo Black w/ white flesh Large round 50 days Good storage
Chinese White Winter Radish White Cylindrical 6-8" 60 days Good storage Daikon

Along with personal experience, we have learned much from gardening websites and seed catalogs. We would like to thank Mike at AveragePersonGardening.com, Johnny’s Select Seeds, Baker Creek, Victory Seeds, St. Clare Heirloom Seeds, Kitazawa Seeds, and Seed Savers Exchange. These are all wonderful sources for these radish varieties
.

January 1, 2016 · gj · No Comments
Posted in: All About Seeds

How to Grow and Make Your Own Dry Rubs

Gardening Jones shares an easy way to eat better for less, by making your own dry rubs.

If you look at the list of ingredients of your favorite dry rubs, you will likely notice that you can grow most of the items yourself. At the very least, they are easy to obtain.

Okay, so maybe you can’t grow corn malodextrin,  and that’s a good thing. So much of our corn is genetically engineered and heavily pesticided, who wants that?

But back to the rubs. We have 2 favorites, both by <a href=”http://companiesopposegmofoodlabeling.blogspot.com/”>McCormick</a>; another good reason to make our own.

Backyard Oven lists their ingredients as: Garlic, Salt, Spices (inc. Black Pepper, Oregano, Basil and Black Pepper), Sugar, Onion, Tomato, Red Bell Pepper, Corn Maltodextrin, Natural Flavors and Extratives of Paprika.

Fiery Five Pepper lists their ingredients as: Sea Salt, Spices (inc. Ancho Chile, Chipotle Flakes, Cayenne Pepper, Roasted Chili Pepper, Black Pepper and Oregano), Unrefined Sugar, Garlic, Onion, Red Bell Pepper, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors and Extratives of Paprika.

Note: Natural Flavors can be anything animal or plant that is otherwise not used in food. Personally, I don’t like surprises.

Many of these ingredients, in fact most, can be grown in the home garden. Citric Acid is just Vitamin C, and you can use dried lemon or orange peel for that.

Herbs and hot peppers can be dried by simply hanging them upside down. Tomato, onion and sweet peppers will need either a dehydrator or oven on low. You can even roast your onions in a hot skillet. See the links below. Dry your ingredients and grind into a powder using a coffee grinder.

Once you have everything you need, use the list on your favorite rub as a guide as to how much of each to combine, the first ingredient being the most. Then use your taste buds to adapt your recipe. Write it down so you don’t forget. :-)

Store in a dry area, away from moisture, and smile…

You just cut out the junk and saved money doing it.

Here’s more:
.
Roasting Tomatoes
Making Garlic Powder
Easy Citrus Zest
Drying Herbs

January 1, 2016 · gj · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Techniques

AAS Profusion Double Deep Salmon Zinnia

Gardening Jones shares her wonderful success with this gorgeous AAS winner.

This gorgeous flower is an All American Select winner, and one we are thrilled to be a part of field testing.

Simply grow in full sun, direct seed or transplant 2′ apart in ground or in containers. Planted just about 2 months ago, they are filling out their containers well with these beautiful doubled-row salmon pink blooms. The flowers are about 3″ wide, and the plants a foot tall so far.

They still have plenty of summer left to grow, and we will be enjoying every minute.

Botanical name: Zinnia hybrida
Growth habit:  Annual
Days to Bloom: 60
Color:  Pinkish-orange
Size:  14″ h x 24″ wide with 2-3″ blooms
Uses: Ornamental – I just found out you can eat them as well. Bonus!

Past AAS Winners

 

December 31, 2015 · gj · No Comments
Posted in: All American Selections